Chhath Puja 2018 - Importance, History and Significance
Chhath Puja is a four-day long festival celebrated in the Northern regions of India and Nepal. It is dedicated to the Sun God, Surya and His consort, Chhathi Maiya. Devotees seek their blessings for the overall well-being and prosperity of the family. The worship of the Sun also cures a variety of diseases and ensures longevity of family members.
The festival is especially important for Biharis and it is celebrated with much reverence and fanfare by them. The roads are cleaned, houses are decorated and the ghats spruced up. This is considered to be the most eco-friendly festival, according to environmentalists.
It is also known as Surya Shashti, Chhathi and Dala Chhath. It falls on ‘Kartika Shukla Shashthi’ which is the sixth day of ‘Kartika’ month in the ‘Vikram Samvat’.
This year, 2018, Chhath Puja falls on Thursday, the 13th of November. According to the Panchang, the sunrise on Chhath Puja Day is at 6.41 and sunset is at 17.28.
Shashthi tithi Begins- 01:50 (13th November)
Shashthi tithi End- 04:22 (14th November)
Rituals and Traditions
Day 1 - Nahan Khan / Nahaye Khaye - Devotees take a dip early in the morning at the river ghats and then carry back water from this river, which is used in the preparation of the holy offerings to the Sun God. On the first day, only one meal is eaten.
Day 2 - Kharna / Lohanda - The women of the house fast for the entire day and break the fast only after sunset with kheer made of jaggery and puris, after offering it to the Sun God first. After this, starts the beginning of a 36 hour fast, in which the women do not drink even a sip of water.
Day 3 - Pehla Arghya / Sandhya Arghya (Evening offerings) - This is the toughest day of the fast, as the women neither drink water nor consume any food the entire day. This day is dedicated to Chhathi Maiya. At sunset, the women of the house are accompanied by all family members to offer ‘Sandhya Arghya’ and take dips in the holy waters of Ganga, Kosi and Karnali. This is done till the sun sets.
Day 4 - Doosra Arghya/ Usha Arghya (Morning offerings) - This is the final day of the Chhath Puja. Devotees gather at the river ghats in the morning and offer ‘Arghya’ to the rising sun, after which they end their fast. The family all gets together to enjoy the feast that follows.
Legend associated with Chhath Puja
There are two legends associated with this festival, one that dates back to the Ramayana and one to Mahabharata.
- When Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after his exile; being a descendant of the Sun God, he, along with Sita, observed a fast in honour of the Sun God and broke it on the next day, at the break of dawn. This ritual has been followed by the others over the years.
- Karna, the prominent mythological character, in Mahabharata, is said to be the son of the Sun God and Kunti. He would religiously offer his prayers to the Sun God while standing in the water and would then distribute ‘prasad’ among the needy. Devotees do the same today.
- It is also believed that Draupadi along with the Pandavas, performed a similar puja on the advice of Sage Dhaumya, to win their Kingdom back from the Kauravas.
This festival also marks the celebration of the new harvest from which fruits and other produce are offered to the Sun God.
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